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Darren let the pickup roll to a stop in front of their home. He sat there, feeling heavy hearted. What had happened to turn a slightly obnoxious teenager into a rampant asshole. He and Mitch had been afraid the situation was going to spiral out of control sooner rather than later. He’d hoped somehow Ben’s fear would override his anger and whatever else had cause him to become so—so whatever it was he’d become. Darren had worried about drugs, but Mitch had dismissed it out of hand. He didn’t think it fit.
“Stop beating yourself up about it.”
“Damnit! You scared the shit out of me.” Darrin turned to his husband and popped him.
Mitch handed Darrin a cold bottle of beer. “He’s not a minor. We can’t force him to stay. I wanted to protect him from whatever was happening too. But now I’m afraid the bad cop route was too much.”
Darrin twisted off the cap and took a long pull at the bottle. He swallowed and looked into the distance as he considered the mess they had. “I gave him a couple hundred dollars. And the prepaid phone we’d gotten in case this happened. I told him we’d like to know that he’s okay.”
Darrin stepped from the pickup and took another drink of beer. “So now I guess we hope he comes to his senses pretty soon.”
Mitch nodded in agreement. “Come on. Let’s get ready. The kids are coming over tonight. Sammy is expecting taboli and Danny wants corndogs.”
Darrin couldn’t keep from chuckling. “Those two couldn’t be more different.”
“Nope, but they are both expecting their favorites and this thing with Ben isn’t going to resolve itself soon. So we better get cooking.”
The next few hours were spent getting ready for a visit from Josh, Trent and their twins. The favorite dishes were prepared and sat aside for later. The grill was getting hot for the steaks the adults had requested when they heard the door slam as the kids raced into the house.
Danny was the first one to find Darrin and Mitch. “Grampy! Pawpaw! Where’s Ben? I gotta show him what I got at the farm market today.”
Darrin glanced at Josh, who smile. “We went to the farmer’s market this morning. He found a rubber band gun that life would stop if he didn’t get.”
Darren gave Josh an understanding smile, which faded as he turned to Danny. “Bud, Ben moved out. He decided he wanted to live somewhere else for at least a little while.”
Danny stared at Darrin and it looked like the water works were about to begin. Darrin was an old softie too. He couldn’t stand for one of the kids to cry. He knelt in front of the boy and pulled him into a tight hug. “It’ll be okay, Danny. Ben just needs some time to himself. He’ll be back. Hopefully it won’t take too long before he comes to his senses.”
Danny pulled away and wiped his eyes with his arm. “Do you promise?”
Darrin couldn’t stand to hurt him any further. “Danny—“
Mitch laid his hand on Darrin’s shoulder. “Be careful what you promise.”
He glared defiantly for several moments before he slumped and shook his head. “I hate it when you’re right.”
He turned back to Danny and took a deep breath. “No, Danny. I can’t promise you. But I hope I’m right.”
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